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Lent's Wake-up Call
By Susan Hines-Brigger


A Perfect Opportunity
A Worthwhile 'Time-out'
For Teens: Taking It One Step Further
For Kids: What's Your Responsibility?

My brother-in-law Doug loves to quote the tagline from the movie Spider-Man—“With great power comes great responsibility.” And, while it’s only a tagline from a movie and most of the time when he says it he’s joking, there’s certainly a lot of truth contained in that statement.

Our faith is a perfect example. With our faith comes great power. But it’s also a big responsibility.

For instance, recently my nieces Samantha and Mary asked me to be their Confirmation sponsor. I was extremely humbled and honored. But I was also a bit intimidated. Being a sponsor is a big responsibility. And, in case I didn’t already realize that, I got a letter from one niece’s parish telling me so.

But it was a good opportunity for me to reflect on exactly how I’m living my faith and fulfilling my own promises at Baptism and Confirmation. I was thankful for the reminder to stop and take stock of my own faith life.


A Perfect Opportunity

This month we begin the 40 days of Lent. It’s a perfect time to reflect on how responsible we’re being with our faith before we celebrate Easter. Don’t believe me? What better example of great responsibility coming with great power is there than the story of Easter? Do the names Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate ring a bell?

Lent gives us a perfect opportunity to take a long, hard look at our faith and how we’re living and nurturing it. Through practices such as fasting and abstinence, we are reminded to slow down and reflect. Remember, we are gearing up for the greatest celebration in the life of the Church.

A Worthwhile 'Time-out'

As a mother of three, I recognize and appreciate the value of a “time-out.” I always hope that my kids learn something from being put in time-out— other than that their mom is mean. I want them to grow as people and that’s why I correct them, sometimes over and over for the same thing, until they understand.

Take advantage of this Lent as your own time-out. Use it as a way to help you grow in your faith and your responsibility for that faith. The following suggestions may help you along the way:

• Put it in words. The quote that I used to start this column could mean a lot of different things to people. Some will think I’m nuts for reading so much into it. Others will see much more than I have. Take some time to write down what those words—or other quotes that you like—really mean to you.

• Make a retreat. Take advantage of this Lenten time-out. If you can’t physically go on retreat, take one mentally. St. Anthony Messenger has a book series entitled A Retreat With. Each book takes you on a retreat with people such as the late Pope John Paul II, St. Francis, Mother Teresa and many others. They are available by calling 1-800-488-0488 or on this Web site.

• Reflect on how responsible you are being with your faith life. Make note of ways you are growing or ways in which you can improve. Keep that note close at hand as a constant reminder.

• Think about last Lent. Did you fulfill the promises you made during that Lenten season? If not, what went wrong? If so, have you made any changes? If you didn’t quite get it right last Lent, perhaps you should give it a second try this year before moving on to a new promise.

Next Month: The Drama of Easter


For Teens: Taking It One Step Further

Most of the time when Lent rolls around, we all contemplate what we are going to give up. Perhaps it’s a particular food, cussing (Yes, I remember giving this up one year when I was a teenager) or being mean to your siblings. And while all of those are worthwhile things to give up, perhaps this year you should step it up a notch and give things up for the sake of others. Are you completely lost? Let me explain.

When we give up things like our favorite food, we are the only ones who reap any benefit from that sacrifice. No one else is enriched because you gave up ice cream. If you decide, however, to clean out your closet and donate some of the clothes you no longer wear, someone else can benefit. If you are set on giving up ice cream, then take the money that you would have spent on that ice cream and donate it to a charity or add it to your parish’s Operation Rice Bowl collection. More information and suggestions are available at

This Lent when you’re trying to figure out what to “give up,” try to take it to the next level and think about how others can benefit from your Lenten sacrifice.

For Kids: What's Your Responsibility?

Aside from our faith, each of us has a number of responsibilities. Being responsible is a wonderful way of showing you care. For instance, cleaning your room without being asked is a sign of responsibility. Remembering to feed your pet is another. Do you have responsibilities? What are they?

During Lent, make an effort without being reminded to take care of the things for which you are responsible. You might also want to take on additional tasks, such as taking out the trash, without being asked.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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